Travel Blog for Fredrik and Gunnhild


Liveaboard and going home

We stayed one night in Khao Lak, 60 km north of Phuket island, before and after our liveaboard. This way we could repack and only bring our dive gear and a small bag of clothes on the boat. We lived in a cozy hotel, Fasai house, just off the main road. The city was very quiet, and it seemed that most tourists in the area stayed at the various beach resorts. We enjoyed our time there, had time for some quiet shopping, found a relaxed German bar with some import beers, had a lot of great food (springrolls, satay and pad thai in particular), enjoyed some thai massage, had a local tailor fix a ripped bag etc.

The hotel let us keep the room until our pickup at 6.30 pm, and after a short ride in an open truck to the pier we were welcomed onto our home for a week, Deep Andaman Queen. Most people were coming by car from Phuket, so we gathered on the main deck, getting to know the other guests while waiting for everyone to arrive. Several of the people we were talking to realized after a while that they were on the wrong boat though, but by 8 pm our group was complete, we were introduced to the crew and got ready to leave. The thai crew had decorated the bow of the boat for the good spirits, and as we left the pier firecrackers were going off to scare the bad spirits.

Our group was quite international with 2 Norwegians, 3 Russians, 1 Dutch living in Switzerland, 1 American living in Japan, 1 Chinese, 2 Singaporeans, 1 Australian and 2 Americans living in China. The 4 dive guides were American, Australian, Dutch and Japanese (private guide). The evening was spent finishing all the paperwork (Myanmar visa, departure cards, dive certifications etc), setting up our dive gear, packing out a bit, getting to know the boat and have a few beers.

The next 7 days we did a total of 22 amazing dives, both in Thailand and in Myanmar. We normally had to get up at 6 am, but instructor Tod had the best wake-up call ever, and knowing we were going diving it was actually not that hard to get up. We had some toast or a yoghurt, something to drink and a briefing in the saloon before we were ready to jump in around 7 am. When we got back up the chef had prepared a large, hot breakfast and we had a couple of hours to relax before our next dive, normally around 10 or 11 am. After lunch we had another dive, and normally ended the day with a sunset or night dive. And after that it was beer o’clock, shower and dinner time. What a good life!

Our very first dive of the trip was on Koh Bon. This was a so-called test dive, where they see which level everyone is on, and try to create the best groups possible based on that. We were 5 people (the two of us + Tim, Al and Danny) who were both advanced and nitrox certified, and we were in Anne the Dutchie’s group. And what a test dive it was. After a nice start we hit strong currents, and were all low on air and pretty exhausted when we got back up. But we all passed the test, and stayed in the same group for the rest of the trip (except some minor changes on a couple of dives).

On our second full day we had a chance to sleep in a bit. Breakfast was not until 9 am, since we were crossing the border to Myanmar and had to spend most of the morning getting through immigration.
4 Myanmar officials boarded the boat to go through everything, and a local guide stayed on the boat for the duration of our stay in Myanmar. On the way back to Thailand 5 days later we even got to leave the boat for an hour. It was a weird feeling to wear shoes (well flip-flops that is) again, and we all had a bit of sea legs. We did some tax free shopping and had a few local beers at Smile restaurant in Kawthoung.

We had to do some changes to the original plan, sometimes because of currents or visibility, but the biggest change was that we had to skip Black Rock due to dynamite fishing, which sadly still happens occasionally here. We still got to dive a lot of great sites though: Koh Bon West Ridge, Tachai Pinnacle, Richelieu Rock, Pratong wreck and Bonsoon wreck in Thailand, and High Rock, Three Islets, North Twin, Shark cave, Square rock, Submarine, Rocky island, Stewart island, Cavern island, Dancer/Holy crab,Frog rock, Fan forest and Western rocky (cave + pinnacle) in Myanmar. Some of the dive sites had so much to see that we did several dives there, and sometimes we returned to a previous site for a night dive, which was a completely different experience. We hardly saw other dive boats our entire time in Myanmar, so we had the dive sites all to our selves. Awesome!

We were a bit early to see manta rays and whale sharks, but other than that we got pretty much all we were hoping for and then some. The highlights would have to be the octopus changing color, the frog fish and last but not least our very first sea horse! Mantis shrimps, barracudas, cuttle fish, squids, rays and spanish dancers were also pretty cool. In some of the sites there were so much fish it was sometimes hard to see your buddy, and other sites had so many moray eels and scorpion fish we lost count after a few minutes. Tim brought a large camera, and was showing us a lot of small stuff we haven’t seen before, like different kinds of anemone fish, sea snails, nudibranchs, shrimps etc.

We also got to do several cool swim throughs and caves, and test ourselves in a few more currents and surges. The swim through at Tachai pinnacle was absolutely gorgeous with large sea fans everywhere. On Stewart island there was a large swim through with a current taking us on a ride the last part of the way and at the end it really pushed us out and up over a wall. On this dive we also went in to a cave with currents going in all directions in the middle. Anne knew how to time it and went through while the rest of us were holding on to the bottom the best we could. Both Tim and Fredrik tried to get through, but were both thrown back by the currents, and we had to exit where we came in. On Cavern island we went into a large tunnel going into the middle of the island, and out an exit on the other side. Quite some surge and so much fish on the way out it was hard to see where to go. On Western Rocky there’s also a large cave, with a beautiful archway by the entrance and lots of large lobsters along the walls. Also our night dive at Three islets was totally crazy with movement absolutely everywhere.

Deep Andaman QueenThe boat itself was very comfortable. It had 9 cabins of different sizes, with room for in total 16 guests (we were only 13). Upstairs there was a saloon, where we had all our briefings, watched pictures and videos, looked up all the marine life we saw during our dives and relaxed when we needed some air condition. We had a large area with a bar and seating for everyone. This is where all meals were served, 5 per day (if you include the pre-dive mini-breakfast) and so much to choose from every time. On top there was a sun-deck with several sunbeds and some sofas in the shade,First of many delicious meals and this was also a good lookout to see dolphins and sharks swimming close to the boat. Downstairs in the back was a large dive deck, with plenty of room for everyone to get ready. The crew was so helpful putting our gear on, making sure everything was set up correctly and showering us with water if it got hot waiting in the sun. Tod usually played music while we were getting ready, and our group often had a little get-ready-to-dive-dance while we were waiting for the captain’s signal to jump in. The captain was really good at what he was doing and manouvered the boat onto the exact right spot every time. When picked up after a dive he “sucked” us right in to the ladders without having to swim at all. Impressive! And of course the crew welcomed us, helped us off with our gear, served fruit juice and at the late dives provided hot towels.

In the evenings we were all hanging out in the seating area (and a bit in the smoking area in the front), playing music, sharing Norwegian aquavite and other drinks, talking, learning new languages, laughing a lot, sharing dive and travel stories, sometimes even singing and dancing. We were a great group and had so much fun! People are telling us we are getting older, but it hasn’t sunk in yet. We skipped the naps a lot of people took during the day (I’m sure the nitrox helped a bit as well), always went to bed last, had twice as much beer as the rest of the group (yes, the list got full and they ran out of our beer of choice) and were still able to be the first one’s ready on dive deck in the morning. The Thai crew actually named Fredrik “Number one”, and always allowed him to get first onto the boat when getting up from a dive.

It was really sad leaving the boat, especially since we were going back to Norway the next day. We took a lot of group photos both under and over water the last day, exchanged email addresses, connected on Facebook, agreed to meet again and said goodbye with a lot of hugs. We really want to do the same trip again, next time probably a bit later so we might be lucky enough to see mantas and whale sharks as well. And hopefully get to dive (and drink) with Anne and Tod again. And a trip to Japan to dive with Tim also sounds like a really good plan. 😉

Liveaboard (going offline)

Today we will go on a liveabord named Deep Andaman Queen. This boat will take us to  Myanmar water and back to Kho Lak.

Deep Andaman Queen

Our itinerary will be like this:

Day 1:

Arrival at MV Deep Andaman Queen in Tablamu pier. Welcome drink serves – Cabin allocation – Staff introduction – Boat briefing – Welcome Dinner – Leave from Tablamu Pier travel overnight to the fantastic dive sites of Similan.

Day 2:

Enjoy with 2 dives at Koh Bon and Koh Tachai then follow by 2 dives at the Richelieu Rock. After diving will have a night cruise to Ranong for immigration on the next day.

Day 3:

In the morning we will clear border formalities at Ranong-Thailand and Kawthoung in Myanmar before cruising out towards islands of Myanmar. Exploring 3 dives at High Rock, Rocky Island and Shark Cave areas.

Day 4:

4 extremely exciting dives at the Black Rock.

Day 5:

Happy dives at North Twin, Shark Cave and Stewart Island.

Day 6:

Morning dive at North Rock then follow by Fan Forest Pinnacle and 2 more dives at Western Rocky.

Day 7:

Two dives at Western Rocky then returning to Kawthoung for checking out from Myanmar and back in to Thailand.

Day 8:

2 wreck dives at Boonsung and another wreck in front of Khao Lak.


We arrived in Bangkok in the afternoon. The official taxi line was very long, so we went for an unofficial one. The taxi driver did not know where we where going, but luckily Gunnhild had saved the location on Google maps and could guide him. The hotel (Playhaus) was a theatre themed hotel and we got the Aladdin Room with an Arabic theme. In the room we had a bathroom with mostly (but not all) frosted glass. Luckily there were curtains! Other than that it was a great hotel with the best bed we had so far on this trip.

We chose this hotel mainly because it was close to many beer pubs like BREW, HOBS (House of beers) and Mikkeller. We also found a place named CRAFT with 40 craft beers on tap when looking for a tailor. In these pubs, they had a lot of beer that we had tried before, but also a descent amount of beers new to us.

We expected Bangkok to be dirty, noisy and way too warm, but was pleasantly surprised, so instead of going to Kanchanaburi as planned, we booked two extra nights in Bangkok. This way we could see the city and get everything in place before the liveaboard (laundry and some shopping) without stress. We didn’t do a lot of sightseeing while in Bangkok. Because of the river festival it was very crowded near the main sights, and getting around was quite hard. Sky train, metro and speed boats were the best options, but with just a few lines and limited transfer options, this took time as well.


We took an one hour boat trip on the Chao Praya river, through the locks and into the canals known as klongs. We could see why Bangkok used to be called “Venice of the east”. The klongs were lined by houses in all sizes and styles from small shacks to grand wooden villas. Locals were running their business here, people were fishing, swimming, doing laundry and selling food and d
rinks to boats passing by. We also passed several temples, shrines, restaurants and schools. It felt like a different city, and was a nice break from the busy streets. Our boat ride ended close to Wat Pho (the temple of the reclining buddha), one of the largest temple complexes in the city. It is famed for its giant reclining Buddha that measures 46 metres long, 15 meters tall and is covered in gold leaf. It was squeezed into a building just large enough to cover it, and was a quite impressive sight.
The rest of the temple was also nice, with lots of buddha statues and some funny looking Chinese statues guarding the gates and buildings. We skipped Temple of Dawn which was being renovated and Grand Palace where the dress code was too strict (we didn’t bring any shoes!). We have seen our share of Asian temples and palaces on previous trips though, so one was more than enough. 

Our last night in Bangkok started at Cloud 47, one of very few casual rooftop bars where flip flops are allowed. We had dinner, a couple of drinks and enjoyed the sunset and the views. The rest of the evening was spent in the bar CRAFT, where Italian brewery L’Olmaia were launching their beers. We had a long talk with the head brewer and his team, got a guided tour in the back of the bar and spent the night talking to the owner and his friends and tasting a lot of good beer.

Koh Lanta

After a quick lunch and a beer, we went to the dive shop we had been emailing with (Hidden Depths) to book diving for the next day and agree on the Nitrox course we had booked. Gary and Jo were very welcoming and flexible, so we were really looking forward to the next few days. We ended up watching the PADI video as soon as we had all the paperwork sorted, and went back to the guesthouse with a lot of theory to read. Both were very hard to get through with jetlag and no sleep on the flight, but we didn’t really have any rush, so we just postponed the exam one day. As part of the training we also went to the filling station, where the German owner explained how they were mixing and filling enriched air, and we analyzed and marked the cylinders we were going to dive with after the exam.

Hidden Depth’s speed boat was currently out of the water for maintenance, but they had agreements with the other diveshops, and we could pretty much pick between all available trips from the island. We loved being diving gypies, moving from boat to boat (always with our own guide from Hidden Depths though). They were all quite similar, and served breakfast, fruit and lunch on the boat. Most of them left from piers just next to ours, which was very convenient, but our favourite boat, Kon-Tiki, was worth the short drive. Awesome service, dark bread and delicious pancakes.

We had 11 dives in 5 days: Koh Haa Lagon, Koh Haa Yai, Bidah Nok, Hin Bidah, Kled Gaew wreck, Bidah Nai, Hin Muang, Hin Daeng, Koh Haa Neung, Hin Yung and Hin Klai. We had great visibility on most dives, 30 degrees water and saw a huge variety of marine life. No manta rays or whale sharks, but the over two meter long leopard shark was pretty cool. We saw several cuttle fish, scorpion fish, turtles and moray eels in all sizes, loads of snappers, trigger fish, trivalies, glass fish, longfin bannerfish, moorish idol, scribbled filefish, andaman sweetlips, yellowback fusiliers, yellow boxfish, spotted boxfish, masked/common porcupinefish, trumpetfish, cornetfish, clownfish, shaded batfish, barracudas and lion fish. Banded sea krate (sea snake), durban dancing shrimp, peacock mantis shrimp, flounder, nudibranchs, stingrays, bigfin reef squid, red tooth triggerfish and a bamboo shark.

The first day we had divemaster Erica all to ourselves. This was the first time we really were able to test our new dive gear, and after some minor adjustments we are both very happy with it! The rest of the week we were diving with instructor Dave as our guide. One day we were joined by freshly certified Sam. She was great though, so that was no problem, even though she told us afterwards that she got a bit stressed when hitting a thermocline with low visibility. After that we were joined by Vivian and Trevor, both instructors on vacation. We stayed together until they were headed back home, had a lot of great dives, many laughs at the boat and also spent several evenings together.

On Koh Haa Yai we dived into some cool, quite large caves with swimtroughs connecting them. In one of them we also saw a huge giant puffer. Koh Haa Neung is famous for a series of vertical swimtroughs and caverns known as ‘The Chimney’. We entered one of the shallow entrances head first, had a short stop in the central chamber at 8-9 meters and exited at around 18 meters. At the end of the dive we took the other way through the chimney and ended up in a cave called the fish bowl. Fun! Another highlight was the trip to Hin Muang (purple rock) and Hin Daeng (red rock), which are bearly breaking the surface 40 nautical miles south of Phi Phi. Beautiful colors, loads of marine life and the reef was in a much better condition than closer to the coast. We also had a nice wreck dive just outside Phi Phi. The 47 meter long vessel was originally the Norwegian Ms Norfest (1948) and commissioned into the Royal Thai Navy in 1956 and renamed. The ship was donated and purposely sunk via controlled explosion to create a new dive site on 19 March 2014. It was impressive how much marine life had “moved in” in such a short time. We also did our first Nitrox (enriched air with 32 % oxygen) here. Didn’t really feel much of a difference, but had more energy in the evening which was nice.
Most of the evenings were spent in Saladan where we lived. All along the water there were restaurants with large terraces over the water, and we also found some nice places in the main street. We even had time for some shopping, a rash guard for Fredrik and new glasses for Gunnhild. The first days it was very quiet, but suddenly on Wednesday a lot of people arrived. It was warm (28-32 degrees Celsius), very humid and mostly sunny. A short rain shower in the evening was just refreshing. The last evening before Vivian and Trevor left, we took a Tuk Tuk to Relax bay, where also Dave joined us for a few beers at the relaxed Fusion bar. We were sitting on pillows around a low table, enjoying the sounds of the ocean and the bonfires on the beach. Some of the local boys showed off their fire spinning skills, and we were talking, laughing and having a wonderful time. So good actually, that by the time we were ready for dinner, all the restaurants were closed. We went back to Fusion and they arranged great local food, and later in the evening a private car to take us home. Great night!

We didn’t use the balcony at our hotel as much as expected. During the day, it was way too warm in the sun, and in the evening we were invaded by a monkey trying to steal our swimwear, drinks and whatever he could find. He also loved licking our windows. Funny guy.

On Saturday it was time to leave Koh Lanta for some days in Bangkok. We picked up our dive gear that had been drying in the dive shop, said goodbye to all the great people we had met, packed our bags and waited for our pickup to the ferry terminal. The speedboat to Phuket was a bit delayed, but with 3×250 HP it only took 1,5 hours, including a short stop at crowded Phi Phi. We spent one night in the old town of Phuket Town, mainly to repack our bags and store our dive gear etc instead of bringing it all to Bangkok. Gunnhild got a haircut while Fredrik was waiting in an expensive wine bar across the street. The evening we spent in Brasserie Phuket, which had a nice beer selection and a great waitress very eager to learn more about beer.


About 20 hours after we started we arrived in Koh Lanta, Thailand at 3 pm. The travel was smooth and on time, but there were long lines for the passport control both in Oslo and Bangkok, so we didn’t have much time to spare. We were picked up at the airport by the guesthouse owner, Manus. The drive from the airport was supposed to be a 1 hour drive plus 2 ferries, but it ended up being more than 3 hours all together because we where waiting for more than an hour on the last ferry. Too bad the bridge they are building will not be opened until February. Koh Lanta is a small island south of Krabi, and we are staying in a city named Saladan where most of the dive shops are located. We are staying in a small guesthouse at the end of the road (Lanta MP Place). We have a large room with a big balcony, and great views over the palm trees to the beach. The city is quite small, so everything is within walking distance, and the dive shop (Hidden Depths) is just 2 minutes away.

We have booked the room until Saturday, but we haven’t really decided where to go next. Probably Bangkok and maybe Kanchanaburi. The friday the week after we are boarding a liveaboard cruise from Khao Lak (north of Phuket), and will spend 8 days diving outside Phuket and in Myanmar. Hardly any boats go to the dive sites in Myanmar, so they are quite untouched, and there will probably not be any other boats there at the same time as us.

Since we will do a lot of diving, we will probably not update the blog every day, but try to write a summary when we move to a new location.